Wine tasting at Chiltern Valley Winery

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As the narrow road sinuously climbed the hill and the clock was almost showing that we will be late, I was thinking that I didn’t really know what to expect from a wine tasting in the United Kingdom. I actually didn’t even know that UK was making wine before booking this voucher, for a friend’s birthday. I’ve been to a wine tasting before, when I was traveling through Peru, and I liked it, but back then I wasn’t into wine that much. Only after I came to the UK I started to discover the different types of wine and become more aware of the flavours and the process of making it. I am now able to know and appreciate a good wine.

Wine tasting at Chiltern Valley Winery - The entrance 2 - The World in My Pocket

The entrance to the winery is somehow hidden by trees but there are big signs guiding you, starting maybe about 2 miles before. In fact, I didn’t even see the wine plants from the road, the entire area being surrounded by forest. It’s quite a peaceful place and I was surprised on how few people were around. Once passed the gates, the winery welcomes its guests in a big courtyard, with the barn on one side and the guestrooms on the other. In front, there’s the shop, where the tours start.

Wine tasting at Chiltern Valley Winery - The entrance- The World in My Pocket

We were late so after we ticked our names from the list, we quietly joined the group and listened to the history of the winery. The first wines were planted here in 1982 by David Ealand, an entrepreneur who left London for the quiet countryside life. He experimented a bit with the land before starting to grow wine plants – in a country that is not wine-making friendly due to the harsh climate. But David proved wrong and now the winery produces about 120.000 bottles of wine each year. All the wine produced here is white, but, as our guide said, due to a slightly climate change, they will experiment making red wine too in the following years.

Wine tasting at Chiltern Valley Winery - The winery - The World in My Pocket

Chiltern Valley has also a small brewery housed by their barn, which they also rent for weddings. This was the first stop of the tour actually and it was really interesting to find out about the different types of hops and how they influence the color and taste of the beer. It’s good to mention that all the hops are locally sourced from the nearby counties. While the guide was explaining how the beer is made, in the back, where the production equipment is held, a tiny girl, looking no more than 25 years old, was busy mixing and stirring and checking the temperatures of the barrels. She was actually the master brewer, working her magic. The temperature is a very important element in the brewing process and if it’s lower or higher than it should be, it can compromise the entire production. The beer made at Chitern Valley is bottled controlled, which means that the beer goes through the fermentation process while it’s in the bottle, giving it a natural carbonation.

Wine tasting at Chiltern Valley Winery - The Barn inside- The World in My Pocket

The next stop of the tour was the grape press. I was surprised that it was only one for the entire winery. I remember that when I was a child, my grandparents used to have a small wine plant covering our yard. Every year they would make wine and they would get the grapes through this really small hand press, almost impossible for me to handle. They would spend an entire day to make maybe 25 liters of wine.

Wine tasting at Chiltern Valley Winery - The wine press- The World in My Pocket

Their bottle and labeling station has quite a funny story. Made in Italy and temperamental (as it was being fixed right when I was there), it was a blessing to filling all the bottles up and making sure the quantity of the liquid is exactly the same in each one. But when the winery started to bottle up liquor, the owner David acquired some special square bottles for it. The square bottles never fit the machine so if you buy liquor from the winery you should know that you the entire bottling, labeling and sealing process was made by hand.

Wine tasting at Chiltern Valley Winery - The bottling machine - The World in My Pocket

The last part of the tour is actually the one everybody was waiting for: the tasting! I was surprised on the amount of drinks we got to taste and I have to say that I did leave the winery a bit tipsy. We started by tasting 3 different wines: Dry, Medium and Bacchus. I liked the Medium best due to its fruity flavours, smooth palette and crisp finish. The other two were very good too but I thought that the Medium stood out for my taste.

Wine tasting at Chiltern Valley Winery - The World in My Pocket

Next, we were given a choice of 4 ales to try, while the guide put on the table some nibbles for us to share: crackers with homemade wild boar ginger pate and a delicious mature cheddar. It didn’t take long to figure it out how good they are all combined and I regret not buying some of those delicious treats from the shop, after the tour.

It was interesting to know that Chiltern Valley is actually one of the Royal House suppliers, with their Barn Ale. One of the members of the Royal Family (I can’t disclose the secret of which Royal πŸ™‚ ) liked the Barn Ale so much that the Royal House started to order it more and more. This is how, in 2007, Chiltern Valley received The Queen’s Royal Warrant, a mark of recognition to those who supply goods or services to the Household of the Royal Family.

Wine tasting at Chiltern Valley Winery - The local liqours - The World in My Pocket

The tasting ended with 4 liquors. I am not a fan of sweet drinks and I tend to avoid them, but I did try them out and I was surprised on how good they were. I found the Wild Peach liquor my favorite out of all, it was so fruity that I didn’t realise I was actually having an 18% drink. I was also impressed by the Damson Vodka, which tasted nothing like the vodka we are used to. The Blood Orange liquor was very smooth but it was a little bit too strong for me. The last drink we had, after coming back to the shop, was the Irish Cream – a perfect blend of creamy and smooth.

Wine tasting at Chiltern Valley Winery - The local products - The World in My Pocket

Overall, I have no idea where 2 hours flied away. I did enjoy the experience and I will probably visit again. I’ve heard that now they have cooking classes too, and who’s a bigger foodie than me? πŸ™‚

Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

106 Comments

  1. Oh wine tasting! I love drinking wine for its benefits but drinking it in this original home is quite and an exquisite experience. The Blood Orange liquor sounds peculiar to me, I wonder what is its concoction.

    cheers!

  2. That’s an amazing tour to go to and the place is just really beautiful. Going here would be a fun learning experience and I am really interested in those cooking classes!

  3. Oh my gosh, I would have been so tipsy by the end of this tour! It sounds like you tasted so many drinks. I did not know that the UK produced any wine, let alone 120,000 bottles just from this winery! It sounds like you had a great experience, one worth visiting.

  4. I’m actually a big fan of English wines. When I got married 4 years ago we had all English wines & sparklings (aside from the red which was a NZ Pinot Noir) served. It wasn’t cheap but I feel really happy about that decision. But those were Sussex wines and I didn’t realise that there were wineries in the Chilterns. My husband has an aunt who lives around that part of the world so perhaps we’ll incorporate a visit to the winery when we next visit her. Thank you so much for letting me know about this place!

  5. Wow! That wine sounds incredibly delicious! I had no idea that everything is bottled by hand because of the machine. I’ve never seen a grape press before, so your picture is the first I’ve ever seen of it! You’ll have to let me know if you go back and try red wine when they try and make it!

  6. What a charming place! I am eyeing those bottles of Irish cream, my favorite liquer (which I like to put in cold coffee). I would love to go here, as I never knew there was a wine culture in the UK. I know it is famous for ales though!

  7. Two of my favorite things in the world that i am yet to experience: the UK and wine tasting!!!! I do want to be in a wine tasting event so bad and i’ve been dreaming to travel around UK and this post of yours makes me so jealous haha. Anyw, you kinda made me feel your experience there and that’s something to look forward for someday in my visit to UK:)

  8. Personally i’m not a drinker but the photos look wonderful, they look a million miles away from my home country England, we have many wine drinkers here, it’s no surprise to have wine tasting, and jams!

  9. Joanna,

    Can you clarify? At no point on your post did you mention unlimited drinks? Bummer! LOL! Ok, first of all, the one thing that stood out is the courtyard. Why? I could imagine myself sitting there with friends drinking. I thought it was fascinating, the way you described the experience of seeing the process of making wine. I don’t think I would ever have that experience so think about it, there are only a few people on earth who did. It now includes you.

  10. There is really a different, special vibe you get when you’re in a winery. Overall very interesting experience. I would love to see the process of making wine. It’s awesome to see what’s happening behind the finish product.

    1. You would actually be surprised if you would taste English wine. Did you know that France is buying grapes from the UK and import it into the Champagne region, to make Champagne out of it?

  11. Oh, I love wines! There’s always classiness and richness in every bottle and I really feel relaxed when I drink one. Anyway, your photos are really good! I hope I get to visit that place too πŸ™‚

  12. This place looks lovely! I would have never thought there was a winery there from the outside. I would really enjoy visiting here so I will have to keep this in my mind!

  13. Wow! Good for you that you get to appreciate good wines. I still can’t since I’m a late alcohol drinker. Anyway, the place looks lovely and how I wish I can try the Wild Peach liquor too as you said it was sweet. Plus, you loved it. It was just surprising for me that it contains 18% alcohol.

  14. Hahah wow it sounds like they really really went crazy with the samples, hey?! Not at all surprised you left slightly tipsy. Looks like a wonderful way to spend a few hours though. I had no idea that the UK produced so much wine either.

  15. This article reminds of my little trip to a small vineyard and winery in the middle of Denmark, and yes, I also thought that vineyards are non-existent in cold Scandinavia! But there it was, and I had the same fun experience as you. I had long wanted to work in a vineyard, but I changed my mind after finding out that people use machineries now to extract the grape juice. No more stumping with the bare feet. haha

  16. a good event this must have been from the look of things, and strange enough i dont consume anything alcohol, as my health doesnt go well with it, but still this must be a good set of wine for that right event.

  17. Yeah I went wine tasting in the Midlands a few weeks ago and I was told that Kent has its own microclimate which allows vineyards to flourish – which is so strange but amazing haha!

    I need to go here, wine tasting is just too much fun – and this isn’t that far away from where I live. Thanks for sharing – the pics are amazing! πŸ˜€

  18. How pretty is this place! I’ve never been wine tasting but have always wanted to try! All I know is that before tasting you have to swirl and smell hehe is thay right? πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

  19. I love that they showed how everything is packaged/produced and that the majority of the ingredients are locally sourced. I would love to visit this winery, especially because I haven’t had a UK wine before. This seems like a really cool place, definitely adding it to my winery list!

  20. Sipping wine or any liquor isnt my thing but is a welcome experience to me. I was told before that cheese goes well with wine tasting. Would love to experience it as well. But of course, I prefer that it be partnered with some meat or pasta πŸ™‚

  21. Very interesting article. Could you imagine that wines produced by CHILTERN VALLEY WINERY are all white, But sooner, they’ll be making also a red wine πŸ™‚ . And the good thing about it, at least you have tried 3 variants of wine. I also love the barrels of wine (in photo) That’s very cool. Thanks for sharing.

  22. It sounds like an amazing experience! The winery looks so sweet and I love how you presented it! From the other side, i am glad you are learning more and more about wines. I had wine class during my college education and it had always been my favorite class. Where else you could drink champagne before the exam? 😁

  23. What a great place! I love wineries, but have never been to the ones in the UK. We live near Napa Valley, so usually go there. The cooking class sounds like something you have to go back for!

  24. Since I am 25 it would be cool to call myself a Brew Master at that age haha. Great timeline of your day! I was never big into wine, mostly champagne because of the carbonation but have grown to like it more and more. I feel like small wineries such as this one takes way better care of it’s guests. I mean, you tried how many things at the tasting?? That’s crazy!! I would leave tipsy too ha. What an honor that you got to go here considering they supply to the Royal Family. A treat for everyone! Would love to visit this AND the UK one day!

  25. It’s been a dream of mine to do wine tasting and see how it is done but so far what I just saw is how to gather honey from bee hive hahahah. Hope to experience this soon as well

  26. Wow! I love attending wine testing events πŸ™‚ I’m not so much of a drinker and because there’s something in wine that appeals to me my palate so much, I’m slowly starting to try different varieties of it.

  27. Hahaha, yeah people tend to forget that wine is made here in the UK! We’re more famous for our warm beers…so it’s good that you enjoyed the ale. Glad you enjoyed, and might have to check it out if I head to the Chilterns myself in the future πŸ™‚

  28. I’ll be completely honest here: I only drink alcohol once in a blue moon. And these are only those with about 5-7% alcohol. I do drink wine, non-alcohol wines. lol. I was just not used to it, must be why I didn’t grow up liking it.

  29. Wine tasting has turned into one of my favorite things to do while on the road, my kids (thought they can’t not taste) have learned a lot about production processes, both past and present. And it’s a terrific way to boost and promote small local companies.

  30. I don’t really drink wine but this is definitely something I want to visit in UK, everything looks Instagram-worthy! If I were there, I will definitely buy wine for my family and friends. Thanks for sharing!

  31. This was such a nice winery. I have never been to one since I am kind of a non drinker but I think now I would like to go just to see the process you described. Sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon.

  32. I would love to go to this place for wine tasting also! πŸ™‚ One of the subjects that I enjoyed the most in college was beverage management. We did A LOT of wine and liquor tasting in that class. πŸ™‚ Sparkling wines are my favorites.

  33. This place looks awesome. I love wine and I love to visit domains. There are a lot in France, a bit everywhere. Each region of France have their own wine and I visited a few of domain where I live in South of France. We are mostly known for the pink wine but there’s also red and white. It’s always so much better to taste wine in the domains like that, feel better and privileged as well. If you ever find yourself visiting France there’re lot of places from South of France to Bordeaux to visit πŸ™‚

  34. you’re so lucky to have enjoyed the day at that place, it looks so beautiful, I would love to be there, to walk around and enjoy a good wine tasting… looks amazing!

  35. Man, I really really really wish I liked wine. I’ve tried so hard but I just can’t seem to get into it. I feel like I’m missing out with these amazing winery experiences! πŸ™

    But wild boar ginger pate & cheddar? Now that’s something I can fully get into πŸ™‚

  36. Ahh! We are getting to read so much about the wine tasting tours looks like we would want to have one soon πŸ™‚ It was interesting to know so much about the brewing processing and so many different flavors of wine. Chitern Valley Winery looks a great place to stay as well amidst so much of greenery.

  37. The location of the winery is so lovely. Set amidst forests, the place has a charm of its own. This charm combined with the some vintage wine is a heady combination.

  38. The place looks green and nice. I loved those miniature bottles. I would have bought a few for myself and for gifting too. Glad you had a good experience. Cheers

  39. It’s great to see that there are some wineries also in the UK. Like you, I didn’t even know there were. In trips and while I was living there I visited some beer and whiskey breweries that were extremely interesting though.

  40. Thanks for sharing your winetasting trip! I believe in supporting local products and also appreciating how it is made — especially when it is screwed by hand!
    Now I’m intrigue who LOVES Barn Ale.. spill it!

  41. That must have been a lovely experience, the winery looks gorgeous, nestled among all those trees. And you got to taste so many different drinks! I would have got out a little (or even a lot) tipsy too, especially because – as you said – I tend not to realize how much alcohol is in a liquor, the fruity and sweet taste always prevails haha πŸ™‚

  42. I have never really thought of the UK as a place to go wine tasting but this looks like a lovely little winery. Although it’s fairly young, looks like a fun way to spend a few hours. Was the wine any good?

  43. I’ve never been to a wine tasting before but I enjoyed reading your experience. Now I believe that this is something I really need to try someday. I love the fact that they also have a place where people can organize their wedding. Love the pictures, as well.

  44. We love visiting wineries and we have sampled a few in England. Great collection of pictures and it’s always nice to take a wine tasting tour and sample some of the local produce. As Christina mentioned above, the UK is not the first place you would think about visiting to sample wine but there is a myriad of great wine tasting experiences to be had around the country. Thanks for sharing this experience with us.

  45. I’m a wine lover and love vinyard visits. It’s amazing to see how it’s made and where. This one looks beautiful, the weather is perfect for it!

  46. What a treat! I like wine tasting, especially in unique places like this one so it seems like it’d be right up my alley! The entrance to the winery is super cute, too.

  47. I honestly wouldn’t have thought of the U.K. as a significant wine growing region due to the weathe. I love seeking out the vineyards of any destination. Cheers!

  48. Even I had no idea that UK was producing wines now. I have been to a couple of wine tastings myself so this was quite interesting to read as I am big time into wines. Will definitely check it out when I am in the UK next year

  49. I always love wine tasting; it’s so funny and a great experience to share with friends. I’ve heard a little bit about wineries in recent years- considering their growing popularity but had no idea that you can also go for wine tasting sessions!

  50. Discovering new vineyards and wine tasting are some of my favorite summer hobbies, funny enough I can’t handle more than 1 glass of wine but that does not stop me from having a fabulous time :).

  51. Wow, this is an awesome wine tasting. I did a wine trading one as well. But that was just.. Well, tasting. You learned so much about the process as well. Interesting! I’m actually only drinking wine since the last two years. Before I didn’t like it at all. Thanks to a tasting, I do now,

  52. Wow!! It looks like a great cute place to visit…. in the future!! What an incredible experience πŸ˜‰ When I am in the UK – I need to visit this place! (on my bucket list)

  53. We were looking into this place as a wedding venue, but never made it out to visit. It looks like an incredible tasting experience – I love that you try so many different things. We are huge wine fans and do tastings nearly everywhere we travel, but have yet to do one at a UK winery. We will have to make it out to Chiltern Valley soon!

  54. My partner and I were given a voucher for the wine tour which I had lost and found out had expired. I made several phone calls to the venue and the person with whom I spoke was exceptionally patient with me and very agreeable. I eventually found the voucher and so booked the trip. Unfortunately we arrived late and I (frustratingly) forgot to bring the voucher yet we were still welcomed into the tour which had already begun. It was very interesting to hear the backstory of the brewery and to be taken around the premises to see the various stages of production. Our tour guide was very helpful and entertaining and the wine tasting was interesting and not at all pretentious. I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone considering.

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